So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

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So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by NT2C » Fri Sep 18, 2020 3:51 pm

Okay, maybe I have a little bit of a clue, but I'm by no means current on the best deals, good/bad brands, etc. With a second round of stimulus checks being seriously discussed by our political critters in DC, and the prospect of unrest in the near future, body armor is looking like maybe a good idea, and I'm probably not the only one thinking this.

So, what are some good choices for someone with say a $1,200 budget?
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by woodsghost » Fri Sep 18, 2020 4:02 pm

I think a serious question needs to be "what is your weight limit?"

Do you want to strap on 20lbs of steel? And will stop most rifle bullets?

Do you want to strap on 3lbs of Kevlar but it will only stop most pistol bullets and shotgun threats?

Do you want to strap on maybe 6 lbs of rifle armor but M855, 7N6, and some other rounds will zip right through it?

Do you want to strap on 10-14 lbs of ceramic, which is about your best option for rifle threats?

+3 lbs for a helmet.

And after that, +3-5lbs of ammo.

+ Water?

Just some key questions.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by NT2C » Fri Sep 18, 2020 7:51 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 4:02 pm
I think a serious question needs to be "what is your weight limit?"

Do you want to strap on 20lbs of steel? And will stop most rifle bullets?

Do you want to strap on 3lbs of Kevlar but it will only stop most pistol bullets and shotgun threats?

Do you want to strap on maybe 6 lbs of rifle armor but M855, 7N6, and some other rounds will zip right through it?

Do you want to strap on 10-14 lbs of ceramic, which is about your best option for rifle threats?

+3 lbs for a helmet.

And after that, +3-5lbs of ammo.

+ Water?

Just some key questions.
I set this thread up so anyone with body armor questions can jump in and get quick answers to their questions and your list provides a great jumping in point for them.

In my own particular case I'm looking at this as a setup for when I absolutely have to enter a high threat area. The most likely scenario would be with the threat cutting my escape route and closing in as the wife and I try to get the hell out of Dodge with the cats and bug out bags. Realistically I'm not sure I could drive, or even get behind the wheel, wearing plates, and to what good? The most likely direction of attack will be from the side and to a lesser extent from the rear while driving. And my head is going to be the most obvious target. Hmmm...

Honestly? I'm beginning to wonder if I should even consider body armor. With my limited mobility, I'm not engaging in any shoot and scoot activity. My house is not fortified (and can't be hardened enough to be worthwhile) so not a very defensible position. Our best option then is to bug out and do it early, in which case armor probably won't be needed. I'm going to have to think more about this.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by woodsghost » Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:10 pm

I agree, though I also think fragmentation is something to consider too. A lvl II vest might be a fantastic investment. In some sort of Feral/bartering after the festivities world it could also help ensure you come home from buying milk and eggs.

For those interested, Hesco is who I would look at for plates. They come highly recommended by people who put their lives on the line and make purchasing decisions for others who do the same.

The Hesco L210 I believe is a great value.

If things go live in a big way I expect we will also see Russian, Chinese, and Israeli plates making their way into the US market too.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by MPMalloy » Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:02 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 4:02 pm
I think a serious question needs to be "what is your weight limit?"

Do you want to strap on 20lbs of steel? And will stop most rifle bullets?

Do you want to strap on 3lbs of Kevlar but it will only stop most pistol bullets and shotgun threats?

Do you want to strap on maybe 6 lbs of rifle armor but M855, 7N6, and some other rounds will zip right through it?

Do you want to strap on 10-14 lbs of ceramic, which is about your best option for rifle threats?

+3 lbs for a helmet.

And after that, +3-5lbs of ammo.

+ Water?

Just some key questions.
Woods: What would be the weight of a full head-to-toe ballistic armor kit?

FWIW, I'd go with a III+ vest. I dunno about plates. Available funds and all.

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Is there a crash course on body armor and ballistic helmets?

Post by williaty » Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:53 pm

Given today's sad news, I think the risk of me trying to mind my own business but having trouble spring up around me is a lot higher than it was 24 hours ago. I'd like to have a set of armor and helmet for my wife and I to raise the resiliency of us attempting to get the hell out of dodge and away from trouble. Is there a crash course in learning about body armor, the support gear for it, and ballistic helmets? I'm sure it's all backordered to hell and gone right now but if I can learn enough to make an informed answer, at least I can put in an order and hope.

If anyone feels inclined to help me narrow my learning, I think that my most realistic threats are pistols and shrapnel from stupidity. Someone missing a shot and hitting me with a AR or AK I guess is possible given how many of them are around but I don't think it's likely. Anything bigger than that I think would be exceedingly unlikely.

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Re: Is there a crash course on body armor and ballistic helmets?

Post by boskone » Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:28 am

There's a thread over in Other Gear that might be worth keeping an eye on, on a similar subject.

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Re: Is there a crash course on body armor and ballistic helmets?

Post by NT2C » Sat Sep 19, 2020 2:55 am

williaty wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:53 pm
Given today's sad news, I think the risk of me trying to mind my own business but having trouble spring up around me is a lot higher than it was 24 hours ago. I'd like to have a set of armor and helmet for my wife and I to raise the resiliency of us attempting to get the hell out of dodge and away from trouble. Is there a crash course in learning about body armor, the support gear for it, and ballistic helmets? I'm sure it's all backordered to hell and gone right now but if I can learn enough to make an informed answer, at least I can put in an order and hope.

If anyone feels inclined to help me narrow my learning, I think that my most realistic threats are pistols and shrapnel from stupidity. Someone missing a shot and hitting me with a AR or AK I guess is possible given how many of them are around but I don't think it's likely. Anything bigger than that I think would be exceedingly unlikely.
Merged this with the topic I set up earlier.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by woodsghost » Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:02 am

MPMalloy wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:02 pm
woodsghost wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 4:02 pm
I think a serious question needs to be "what is your weight limit?"

Do you want to strap on 20lbs of steel? And will stop most rifle bullets?

Do you want to strap on 3lbs of Kevlar but it will only stop most pistol bullets and shotgun threats?

Do you want to strap on maybe 6 lbs of rifle armor but M855, 7N6, and some other rounds will zip right through it?

Do you want to strap on 10-14 lbs of ceramic, which is about your best option for rifle threats?

+3 lbs for a helmet.

And after that, +3-5lbs of ammo.

+ Water?

Just some key questions.
Woods: What would be the weight of a full head-to-toe ballistic armor kit?

FWIW, I'd go with a III+ vest. I dunno about plates. Available funds and all.
Going with the Hesco plates, a minimalist plate carrier, a 2.5 lb helmet (I believe that is close to the ACH weight), a 70oz water bladder, FAK supplies, 5 AR mags, and some random crap (2-3 lbs, maybe a gas mask, or munchies, or a radio, or entry tools, or NODs, or other mission equipment), the total should be about 30 lbs. A weapon would add 6.5-11 lbs, depending on your preferences.

For the random crap, I used "or", but modern infantry usually uses "and." So their weight can go up quite a bit more than this. Especially when you add explosives. But as a civilian, I don't ever expect to legally carry explosives, not have the funds for all the cool gear, so if I were ever in a "full battle rattle" it would be around 38 lbs. But I don't have that much armor right now, so my setup is much lighter simply because I don't have near that much gear (for better or for worse).

If I missed the question and it was actually "how much does the heavier armor that real soldiers use weight" that would be an ACH helmet, a OTV best, SAPI plates, and I will ignore side plates.

Doing a little searching:

The Wiki says 16.5 lbs for an intercepter OTV and SAPI plates. The ACH should be 2.5 lbs. So 19 lbs without ammo, FAK, water, or anything else.

If you are asking about a bomb squad style kit or some sort of future Call Of Duty style armor kit, I don't even know. I would bet it would be pretty heavy.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by Halfapint » Sat Sep 19, 2020 9:09 am

I just bought myself some of this I have had the ceramic plates for a while. Had them checked and they seem to be unbroken but even if they were cracked they are going to get real jacked up when hit. And they are multi hit rated.

I picked up the late carrier being sold by someone in the military it came with FAK bag and a 3 double mag holders. Not sure what it weighs in at but it’s axtuallybpretty comfortable. I’ve been wearing it while splitting wood and it doesn’t seem to restrict movement much.

The biggest thing I learned when buying all this is there isn’t really a “size” it’s. Small/medium/large and that’s what your plates come in. I have medium plates so I need a medium plate carrier. The guy I bought it from was built similar to me ans it worked out. I bought a plate carrier off wish and well. It was so small even at XXL that the wide couldn’t wear it. So try your gear on before you buy!
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by MPMalloy » Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:20 am

Halfapint wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 9:09 am
I just bought myself some of this I have had the ceramic plates for a while. Had them checked and they seem to be unbroken but even if they were cracked they are going to get real jacked up when hit. And they are multi hit rated.

I picked up the late carrier being sold by someone in the military it came with FAK bag and a 3 double mag holders. Not sure what it weighs in at but it’s axtuallybpretty comfortable. I’ve been wearing it while splitting wood and it doesn’t seem to restrict movement much.

The biggest thing I learned when buying all this is there isn’t really a “size” it’s. Small/medium/large and that’s what your plates come in. I have medium plates so I need a medium plate carrier. The guy I bought it from was built similar to me ans it worked out. I bought a plate carrier off wish and well. It was so small even at XXL that the wide couldn’t wear it. So try your gear on before you buy!
You *have* 2 check this out :D

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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by raptor2 » Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:20 pm

AR500 generally has some decent packages cost wise.

https://www.ar500armor.com/plate-carrie ... undle.html

I have both plate and soft body armor. WG's question is quite relevant the weight of the plat armor is quite relevant after wearing it for several hours. The soft armor while not as heavy is extremely hot in the summer.
I originally got a plat carrier with mollie attachments but then looked for and found through the above group a more concealable plate carrier for obvious reasons.

These folks have more discrete armor options.
https://bulletproofeveryone.com/mens/

One thing to bear in mind armor is not perfect and you generally have large sections of your body exposed. In fact during my routine range time with my friends the Mozambique Drill and the Failure to Stop Drill is often practiced for exactly that reason.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by boskone » Sat Sep 19, 2020 6:25 pm

raptor2 wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:20 pm
One thing to bear in mind armor is not perfect and you generally have large sections of your body exposed.
That's not necessarily true. In my case there's be extra-large sections of body exposed. :(

Jokes aside, if I were going to bother with hard armor, I'd honestly just get a plate for my pack. Between lack of experience and expertise, any situation where body armor would be actually useful would be well beyond my capabilities. It'd probably just do more to slow me down in getting away than I'd gain from having it.

Maybe soft armor. One hostile or just a few would be a doable situation.

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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by RonnyRonin » Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:41 pm

I've spent a good amount of time researching cheap armor and the various low-budet options; I'm willing to take a lot of risks in regard to armor that most people seem to find a bit scary but here is my take:

-Old as dirt police surplus soft vests still stop bullets. I used to be able to get them for $50> pretty consistently, they are of course more now

-Female vests tend to be much cheaper used then male vests. Mine fits just fine despite lacking the upper chest to fill it out.

-I like level II vests; I think .44 mag is a pretty uncommon threat so I'll take my chances despite IIIa being the accepted standard. Level IIs tend to be cheaper/thinner/lighter.

-if you can find some soft inserts cheap its not super hard to glue some straps directly to the inserts and skip the carrier all together

-I bought surplus SAPI plates back when they were $150> per pair; at 4lbs a plate they are a pretty small mobility hit and a no brainer for me most of the time. I'm shopping for a second pair of plates, and 5lbs per plate is my personal maximum.

-despite what everyone says I can pretty easily conceal my plate carrier with surplus SAPIs under a light jacket. I've worn them into busy stores with no funny looks and around gun savvy friends without notice. The single biggest issue is the hump back look at the top of the rear plate; a hood on your jacket helps immensely with this. I've built my carrier to also hold 3 rifle mags and a radio in the cummerbund without increasing the visual signature; so the usual social costs of roaming around with a combat load are reduced to near zero for me outside of really hot weather and huggy people.

-I find the heat/discomfort complaints about soft vests to be overstated. I don't wear them often, but many times I've worn them for 12 hours at a stretch and occasionally in summer heat. Just the other day I decided to wear one to go into my local metro area due to the current climate; sure I'd rather not be wearing one but I don't find them to be that miserable.

-for hard plates I find a double curve to be non-negotiable, single curves are extremely uncomfortable for my body type, increase wear on the plate carriers and threaten to often pop me one in the chin

-III+ is the sweet spot for hard plates for me; I consider m193 and m855 to be 90% of the threat I'm worried about. Your personal AO might change this but my own math has always been that if someone is going to pop me one with a .300ultrasuperdupermagnum they are just as likely to hit me in the neck or obliquely and I'm not going to lug the extra several pounds when it is such a small percentage of the guns/ammo out in the world.

-while I don't believe all the bad press, its fairly easy to conclude that steel armor isn't as safe as ceramic as far as fragmentation/spall, and stopping higher velocity threats like spicy m193 out of longer barrels at closer ranges.

-Most steel armor has three strikes as far as I'm concerned; at 8lbs a plate it is a noticeable mobility reducer compared with composite armor. The above mentioned less than perfect record with some common rounds is number two. Number three is the almost total lack of a double curve option; but I think Cati armor makes a sorta-double curved option I'm more curious about.

-I've also heard lots of good things about Hesco; although most good bargains that are in stock seem to be single curve which always bums me out. RMA also has a good rep, "tactical scorpion gear" seems a little sketchy but they are USA made and have a massive number of options for curve, size, and cut. Botach has some REALLY affordable double curve options, but are of course OOS right now

-For driving with plates I simply use an inflatable backpacking sit pad to fill the void underneath my rear plate; I've done multihour drives like this a few times with no massive discomfort. A small FAK or buttpack can also do this job if packed carefully enough.

-Conceptually I've ALWAYS been in favor of keeping your soft armor and hard armor separate; this of course gives you three armor options (soft, hard, and soft+hard) rather than just one if you try to combine them (like with soft backers in a plate carrier, or an old style interceptor vest). Most of the time soft armor makes more statistical sense than hard armor, and you are far more likely to wear it (the armor on your body always being better than the armor in your closet or in your car). Also soft vests have far more coverage than the soft plate backers a lot of people seem to be running these days.

-probably my most controversial assertion; Most ICW (in conjunction with) hard armor plates (only rated when used with a IIIa soft armor backer) do in fact stop the bullet and the soft armor is only there for defeating the backface deformation (the amount the plate bulges and punches you when shot). Therefore many materials will help with this backface deformation better, lighter and cheaper than IIIa backers; such as dense foam. My assertion is that IIIa material is used because it is consistent in tests, and therefore lends itself to blanket ratings in a lab while various weights of foam or other absorbent materials do not; I also submit that several stand alone armor plates use integrated foam backers to achieve their stand alone status, which reinforces my belief that ICW plates+suitable amounts of foam would achieve stand alone status if someone was willing to pay the large bill to have them certified. I personally run my SAPI plates with only 10mm spacer mesh backers, but you might not be so risk tolerant as me.

-I've pretty much written off ballistic helmets all together; they are heavy and can cause neck injuries in cars and other places. While a soft armor vest has a near zero social cost if concealed well a helmet is very odd and attention grabbing in most contexts. My main reasoning is that if it ever gets so bad that I think its worth it to wear a helmet than I think things will be so bad I'm almost only worried about rifles and not handguns so much. I also think that handguns even more than rifles are a larger threat to my torso than my head, and since helmets don't (as of now) stop rifle rounds I might as well wear a ball cap or a protec.



For $1200 I think you could easily get two IIIA concealable soft armor vests, and two pairs of III+ hard armor plates. Pre covid you could probably outfit two people with concealable vesta and plate carriers for $800 if you were patient, but $1200 and some time on backorder will still probably get you there today.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by MPMalloy » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:34 am

RonnyRonin wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:41 pm
I've spent a good amount of time researching cheap armor and the various low-budget options; I'm willing to take a lot of risks in regard to armor that most people seem to find a bit scary but here is my take:

-Old as dirt police surplus soft vests still stop bullets. I used to be able to get them for $50> pretty consistently, they are of course more now

-Female vests tend to be much cheaper used then male vests. Mine fits just fine despite lacking the upper chest to fill it out.

-I like level II vests; I think .44 mag is a pretty uncommon threat so I'll take my chances despite IIIa being the accepted standard. Level IIs tend to be cheaper/thinner/lighter.

-if you can find some soft inserts cheap its not super hard to glue some straps directly to the inserts and skip the carrier all together

-I bought surplus SAPI plates back when they were $150> per pair; at 4lbs a plate they are a pretty small mobility hit and a no brainer for me most of the time. I'm shopping for a second pair of plates, and 5lbs per plate is my personal maximum.

-despite what everyone says I can pretty easily conceal my plate carrier with surplus SAPIs under a light jacket. I've worn them into busy stores with no funny looks and around gun savvy friends without notice. The single biggest issue is the hump back look at the top of the rear plate; a hood on your jacket helps immensely with this. I've built my carrier to also hold 3 rifle mags and a radio in the cummerbund without increasing the visual signature; so the usual social costs of roaming around with a combat load are reduced to near zero for me outside of really hot weather and huggy people.

-I find the heat/discomfort complaints about soft vests to be overstated. I don't wear them often, but many times I've worn them for 12 hours at a stretch and occasionally in summer heat. Just the other day I decided to wear one to go into my local metro area due to the current climate; sure I'd rather not be wearing one but I don't find them to be that miserable.

-for hard plates I find a double curve to be non-negotiable, single curves are extremely uncomfortable for my body type, increase wear on the plate carriers and threaten to often pop me one in the chin

-III+ is the sweet spot for hard plates for me; I consider m193 and m855 to be 90% of the threat I'm worried about. Your personal AO might change this but my own math has always been that if someone is going to pop me one with a .300ultrasuperdupermagnum they are just as likely to hit me in the neck or obliquely and I'm not going to lug the extra several pounds when it is such a small percentage of the guns/ammo out in the world.

-while I don't believe all the bad press, its fairly easy to conclude that steel armor isn't as safe as ceramic as far as fragmentation/spall, and stopping higher velocity threats like spicy m193 out of longer barrels at closer ranges.

-Most steel armor has three strikes as far as I'm concerned; at 8lbs a plate it is a noticeable mobility reducer compared with composite armor. The above mentioned less than perfect record with some common rounds is number two. Number three is the almost total lack of a double curve option; but I think Cati armor makes a sorta-double curved option I'm more curious about.

-I've also heard lots of good things about Hesco; although most good bargains that are in stock seem to be single curve which always bums me out. RMA also has a good rep, "tactical scorpion gear" seems a little sketchy but they are USA made and have a massive number of options for curve, size, and cut. Botach has some REALLY affordable double curve options, but are of course OOS right now

-For driving with plates I simply use an inflatable backpacking sit pad to fill the void underneath my rear plate; I've done multihour drives like this a few times with no massive discomfort. A small FAK or buttpack can also do this job if packed carefully enough.

-Conceptually I've ALWAYS been in favor of keeping your soft armor and hard armor separate; this of course gives you three armor options (soft, hard, and soft+hard) rather than just one if you try to combine them (like with soft backers in a plate carrier, or an old style interceptor vest). Most of the time soft armor makes more statistical sense than hard armor, and you are far more likely to wear it (the armor on your body always being better than the armor in your closet or in your car). Also soft vests have far more coverage than the soft plate backers a lot of people seem to be running these days.

-probably my most controversial assertion; Most ICW (in conjunction with) hard armor plates (only rated when used with a IIIa soft armor backer) do in fact stop the bullet and the soft armor is only there for defeating the backface deformation (the amount the plate bulges and punches you when shot). Therefore many materials will help with this backface deformation better, lighter and cheaper than IIIa backers; such as dense foam. My assertion is that IIIa material is used because it is consistent in tests, and therefore lends itself to blanket ratings in a lab while various weights of foam or other absorbent materials do not; I also submit that several stand alone armor plates use integrated foam backers to achieve their stand alone status, which reinforces my belief that ICW plates+suitable amounts of foam would achieve stand alone status if someone was willing to pay the large bill to have them certified. I personally run my SAPI plates with only 10mm spacer mesh backers, but you might not be so risk tolerant as me.

-I've pretty much written off ballistic helmets all together; they are heavy and can cause neck injuries in cars and other places. While a soft armor vest has a near zero social cost if concealed well a helmet is very odd and attention grabbing in most contexts. My main reasoning is that if it ever gets so bad that I think its worth it to wear a helmet than I think things will be so bad I'm almost only worried about rifles and not handguns so much. I also think that handguns even more than rifles are a larger threat to my torso than my head, and since helmets don't (as of now) stop rifle rounds I might as well wear a ball cap or a protec.



For $1200 I think you could easily get two IIIA concealable soft armor vests, and two pairs of III+ hard armor plates. Pre covid you could probably outfit two people with concealable vesta and plate carriers for $800 if you were patient, but $1200 and some time on backorder will still probably get you there today.
Wow. Posted like a boss.

Thanks ronny :)

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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by NT2C » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:56 am

raptor2 wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:20 pm
These folks have more discrete armor options.
https://bulletproofeveryone.com/mens/

One thing to bear in mind armor is not perfect and you generally have large sections of your body exposed. In fact during my routine range time with my friends the Mozambique Drill and the Failure to Stop Drill is often practiced for exactly that reason.
Thanks for this link. That sherpa hoodie has my name all over it, if I can get the purchase past She Who Guards the House Treasury, probably in IIIA
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by RonnyRonin » Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:08 am

just heard from a buddy in another state; he said he managed to get some of the botach plates in a restock today, got 2 of the last 3 plates in stock 45 minutes after the restock email went out. So while everything is OOS right now if you are fast you can still probably get some.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by jor-el » Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:45 am

https://botach.com/battle-steel-level-i ... r-package/

100 bucks



Members here who came from Arfcom should recognize the channel

The very basic vest comes in plate sizes 10x12 and 11x14. The technology is UHMWPE. Milk jugs, more or less.

The panels are plate backers but function as armor panels. They are quite thin and vacuum sealed in plastic. The vest could be worn as concealed understanding that the panels being vacuum sealed do not breathe like conventional kevlar.

The panels are rectangles or what the industry calls "shooters cut" so as not to interfere with shoulder mounting a rifle. They do not have the coverage a proper vest affords nor do they provise any side coverage. To be fair, many early vests from the mid 70s and 80s did not cover the sides of the torso either.

Battle Steel hard plates, if you can get them, can be added to this base vest. Wait for a sale, and level 4 is only 340 bucks.

You do realize, of course, where the panels, the plates, and likely many of the low cost UHMWPE helmets are coming from? More of a logistics issue then a political one.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by raptor2 » Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:07 pm

At 4 lbs and $100 that sure looks like a good deal. Yes it only provides 140 sq inches of coverage but still that is lot better than nothing. I would actually like to get only the plates but it looks like they sell those separately for more $$ than the package.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by woodsghost » Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:03 pm

UHMWPE, last I checked (2018?), is sensitive to heat. You can wear them, or store them in a temperature controlled location, but leaving them in a car on a Texas summer day will cause the plastic to change and stop being bullet resistant. Unless they have solved that. I haven't heard anywhere they solved the issue. I don't remember what internal temp they have to reach, but searching should provide people with both the latest data, and temps to avoid so you can determine if they are a good choice for your region or not.

The rifle plate versions, so I have read, have a higher mass and resist the effects of high temps better so are considered more safe to use and store in a wide range of temps. However, some might remember my post above about some rifle plates being light weight but super vulnerable to M855 and 7N6? That would be rifle plates made of UHMWPE (older mild steel core Chinese 7.62x39 might also pose an issue. The problems arise out of steel, even mild steel, being inside the bullet). I feel like I've seen combined ceramic/UHMWPE, and that sounds like a good combo to me, but I think they are expensive.
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by MPMalloy » Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:51 pm

Which provides more protection: III, IIIA, or IIIA+?

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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by woodsghost » Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:08 pm

MPMalloy wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:51 pm
Which provides more protection: III, IIIA, or IIIA+?
Lvl IIIA+ is not a thing. Not a thing I have seen, anyway.

Lvl IIIA is for pistols. It is an actual standard.

Lvl III is for rifles. It is an actual standard.

Lvl III+ is for rifles. It is an industry designation and not recognized by any certification body. It indicates the armor is designed to resist M855. Lvl III is only certified against M193.

[Edit: looks like NIJ does not certify Lvl III for any 5.56 threat, but suggests it is fine for .223 hunting ammo, and recommends Lvl IV for 5.56]
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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by NT2C » Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:57 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:08 pm
[Edit: looks like NIJ does not certify Lvl III for any 5.56 threat, but suggests it is fine for .223 hunting ammo, and recommends Lvl IV for 5.56]
I've seen video (scouring my YouTube history for it at the moment) of both XM855 and XM193 going through Level III+ plates.

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Re: So, you want to buy some body armor but haven't a clue?

Post by RonnyRonin » Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:59 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:03 pm
UHMWPE, last I checked (2018?), is sensitive to heat.....
.....I feel like I've seen combined ceramic/UHMWPE, and that sounds like a good combo to me, but I think they are expensive.
my research matches your own. UHMWPE is just longer chains of molecules than milk jugs from my understanding, and the heat breaks the chains down to be the normal length, resulting in milk jug armor. I never found a precise temperature, but merely vowed to never live in a place where it would matter.

Pure UHMWPE is only ever rated to III, at least in human plates, I'm sure higher ratings can be found on vehicles etc. Any III+ or IV plate I've seen that contains UHMWPE also has a steel or ceramic front to it; the Botach battlesteel being an example of this (steel being a misnomer, its ceramic) and I even think a surplus SAPI is the same construction? At a minimum it's a ceramic front with some kind of slightly more pliable backer; pure ceramic plates are fairly rare too I think.

It is good to think of UHMWPE and steel as opposites; m193 is defeated by PE but (sometimes) plows through steel, and m855 typically plows through PE but is defeated by steel.
MPMalloy wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:51 pm
Which provides more protection: III, IIIA, or IIIA+?
the full order goes:

IIa < II < IIIa < (IIIa+) < III < (III+) < IV

As woodsghost said, a "+" is not a real NIJ rating, III+ implies that it has met all the testing required for III with an additional test not required by the NIJ; nearly always meaning m855. I'm unfamiliar with IIIa+, but you'd have to read the fine print.

Here is the rub: many plates and inserts are "tested to NIJ standards" often by an independent lab; but this does NOT mean it is NIJ certified; the latter costs massive amounts of money and requires the NIJ be able to randomly yank samples off the assembly line and re-test at will; obviously this is going to result in a much higher cost. if you are tempted to say "thats a good price" there is a 9/10 chance it is not certified.

Also as woodsghost said; the NIJ standards are VERY specific, and often don't match up to what most people actually worry about; so it can be a comfort for companies to provide their own testing data that goes above and beyond the NIJ cert (like m193 and 7.62x39, or m855).
NT2C wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:57 pm

I've seen video (scouring my YouTube history for it at the moment) of both XM855 and XM193 going through Level III+ plates.
not sure what plates those are, but these: http://bulletproofme.com/RP-Level-3-PLUS-Steel.html are an example of "lab tested" but NOT certified. I don't know of ANY steel plates that are certified; but I also don't know of any ceramic or UHMWPE level III that WON'T stop m193, or any III+ that won't stop m855. Some steel seems to work fine, but there have been enough dissenting youtube tests of all kinds of steel that I'm really hesitant to trust or recommend it, even when a certain products appears to have passed. My assumption is that the heat treating process is tricky, and perhaps less consistent than other constructions. Even chinesium ceramic/PE plates seem to have more consistent results than steel.
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